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Period UT is a club on campus dedicated to eradicating poverty and ending the stigma around menstruation. Period UT is a part of the larger national organization Period Inc.
Rachel Shutte, president of Period UT, brought this organization to campus last year. Shutte was inspired by a friend from high school who started a Period organization at their school.
“I saw it and looked at our campus and I was like we have the same exact issues… people are in need of menstrual supplies and people don’t talk about menstruation,” Shutte said.
Period has been an official organization on campus for over a year and a half. During this time, Period UT’s members have been actively trying to help students in need who can’t afford menstrual products. Across campus, free pads can be found in bathrooms thanks to Period. The group has been active in many other ways as well.
“We do drives and fundraising events to help supply products,” Shutte said. The money from these events goes towards buying period products for students.
Shutte explained that long term, the group would like to see UT recognize this problem, and “help fund students in need and all students on campus.”
Grace Carter, Period UT advocacy and education chair, shared that she “made bags with tampons and pads which was fun… we’ve also gone around and put flyers up.”
Meetings for the group happen on campus once a month. There are no dues or requirements to be a member. According to Shutte, there was a lot of interest after the organization fair at the beginning of the year.
Shutte shared that the approval process for Period as a club was fairly simple, but the real work began after, to change the stigma around menstruation on campus.
“The hardest part is getting people to talk about it… we’ve had people give us the side-eye or call it gross when we’re on Ped,” Shutte said.
Shutte usually brushes these things off, but it's a reminder that menstruation is still considered a taboo topic.
Carter has dealt with similar situations, as she comes from experience working with menstruation advocacy. “When I was a senior in high school we had to do capstone projects… My idea was period poverty. I ended up being able to raise money to buy period products for my high school,” Carter said.
As far as UT goes, there is still a long way to go in terms of the stigma around periods and helping those in need. SGA has also been working towards placing more machines with period products on campus.
Although Shutte is graduating, she is confident about Period’s place at UT and its future success.
“I’d really like to see a partnership with SGA and work on getting educational materials out,” Shutte said. Shutte also has hopes that Period UT will expand to help local high schools and the rest of the Knoxville community.
Seeing as Carter has a background in helping with period poverty, it comes as no surprise she has many goals for the future of the group.
“I’d love to keep pushing education. I’d love to see tabling continue. We’ve done drives with sororities which I would like to see happen again,” Carter said.
Period UT meets once a month, and meeting information can be found on Vol Link and Instagram. Anyone is welcome to join at any time. You can find more information at tabling events and drives, and get involved with a great on-campus organization.